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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

POETS, COURTESANS, AND MONKS              129

It was the steady accumulation of lines like these which later, when
he was arrested and tried, established his guilt as one trying to destroy
confidence in the regime.

Meanwhile he enjoyed himself when and where he could. He tried to
escape to nature, and nature was there at its best at his feet. His poetic
spirit feasted upon the beauties of the neighbourhood. For not only the
city itself and West Lake, but all the mountains within ten or fifteen
miles of Hangchow became his favourite haunts. Starting from West
Lake, the traveller could go in all directions, either following the north
bank to the famous Lingyin Temple and reaching the top of Tienchu,
or starting from the south bank, he could go to Kehling, stop over at
Hupao, famous for its spring water, have his tea there, and return by
following a beautiful winding mountain brook. In the city and the
suburbs there were three hundred and sixty temples, usually on moun-
tain-tops, where he could while away a whole afternoon chatting with
the monks. An outing to these hills usually took a whole day, and he
reached home late at twilight, when the street lights were already on.
Passing the crowded and illuminated night fair at Shahotang, he would
come home drowsy and half drunk, thinking up poetic lines and forget-
ting half of them.

"Suddenly rubbing my sleepy eyes,
I saw the brilliant lights of Hotang.
The milling people were clapping their hands,
And frolicking like young deer in the wilds.
I realised then that the simple joys of life
Could be enjoyed only by the simple men.
What is happiness in human life?
My ways, I fear, are all wrong."

Hangchow was gay and West Lake was enticing. The southern
climate invited one to spend one's time outdoors in all seasons. In
spring and autumn all Hangchow played on the lake. Even in winter
on a snowy day there were pleasure-seekers who went out in boats to
gnjoy the landscape in snow. Particularly on great festivals, like the
third day of the third moon, the fifth day of the fifth moon, the mid-
autumn festival, the ninth day of the ninth moon and the birthday of
a local god, the eleventh day of the second moon, the lake was filled
with holiday-makers, and one had to engage a boat on the previous day.
It was not necessary to bring food along because everything, including
cups, saucers, spoons, and chopsticks, was provided by the boatmen.
There were also boatmen who caught fish and sold them to people
who could put them into the water again as a way of "accumulating